VIA Wants Canadians with Disabilities to Pay for their Rights

For Immediate Release

December 20, 2000

CCD, on December 4th, filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency seeking an interim order to halt VIA Rail's purchase of new rails cars which are less accessible than the aged rolling stock already in use in Canada. On December 8th Via Chairman Marc LeFrancois wrote CCD and suggested our actions were "premature and not in keeping with the consultative and constructive approach we and others have taken to the issues before us." On December 13th we learned that VIA had purchased the rail cars on December 1st. Now who was being "premature and not in keeping with the consultative and constructive approach".

VIA Rail now has become even more heavy handed. "First they suggested the complaint be dismissed because the rolling stock had already been purchased and now they suggest that CCD must be prepared to assume the damages that VIA might incur should the deal not go through. VIA first buys inaccessible stock, then suggests that the Council of Canadians with Disabilities must be prepared to pay to have our rights protected. Obviously VIA has no regard for the needs of Canadians with disabilities, not only are they creating more barriers for us they suggest we be prepared to pay millions for their mistake,", said Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator of CCD.

"Canada has a long history of making incremental improvements to transportation access, this deal cannot be characterized as such, it is a set back and one that we may have to live with for 25 years," said Pat Danforth Chairperson of CCD's Transportation Committee. Minister Collenette promised our community any new rail stock would be accessible. Rail access is important not only to people with disabilities but to an aging population.

"The Government of Canada is giving VIA $400 million for this deal. Public money must not be spent on an inaccessible system, Minister Collenette must keep his promise"; said Eric Norman of Gander, Newfoundland.


For More Information, contact:

Pat Danforth, CCD Transportation Chairperson: 250-383-4443
Eric Norman, CCD Past National Chairperson: 709-256-8630
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator: 204-947-0303 or 204-467-5926
David Baker - CCD Legal Counsel: 416-539-0226